Canonical announces developer preview of dual-boot Ubuntu and Android

David Parker December 26, 2013 0

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Canonical has released a developer preview of Ubuntu and dual boot Android. The new dual boot tool provides a new and interesting feature to the developers; Ubuntu on mobile devices can now run alongside Android on a single handset.

The installation and dual boot operation can be done in a few easy steps. All you need is a:

  • A bootloader unlocked Nexus 4 device- The device should be USB debugging enabled (The tool has also been tested on the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10)
  • 2.7GB of free space
  • A computer running Ubuntu OS and ADB tools

Ubuntu warns that this tool “is recommended to be installed only by developers who are comfortable with flashing devices and with their partition layout. Dual boot rewrites the Android recovery partition and those installing it should be intimately familiar with re-flashing it in case something goes wrong”.

This tool is not part of the regular release and the users should not expect any perfect solutions. Since there is nothing much you can do in case something goes wrong, we suggest you wait for the end product if you are not tech savvy.

Once you install the dual boot tool, switching between OSs becomes easier. The hassle of using key combinations and command line interfaces to jump to the next OS is eliminated. A simple user interface allows the user to switch back and forth at the tap of a button.  The initial installation, upgrade and rebooting into Ubuntu is managed by the Android app.

dualboot-ubuntu

According to the official Wiki, once the entire process is done after a lot of hard work, you will have the following after installation:

  • A single device with the ability to switch between fully functional Android and Ubuntu images
  • On Android: an Ubuntu Installer app to install Ubuntu, as well as to boot into Ubuntu
  • On Android: the SuperUser app to grant permissions to the Ubuntu Installer app
  • On Ubuntu: an Ubuntu Dual Boot app to boot into Android
  • Ubuntu system updates are not yet supported from the Ubuntu side, but they can be done via the Android app

Ubuntu-Dual-Boot-Shots

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Canonical mentions that this is just the beginning and more and more features will be added as the development progresses. As mentioned in the wiki, some of the features we can expect are:

  • Improvements to the installation and download process
  • Enable localisation in the android app by moving string to a resource file
  • Review error handling within the application
  • Enable Ubuntu updates from the android app (instead of having to re-install the image)
  • Restore the orginal Recovery partition from the ubuntu-side application.

Being a fairly complicated process, there is a possibility that things might go wrong and you may not be able to boot into either Ubuntu or Android. At such a time, reflash the original boot and recovery images and revert the Android installation to the status it was before dual boot. The exact steps to do the same are given below as stated in the official Ubuntu Wiki:

  1. Download the Android firmware you are running on your device onto your PC.
  2. Open a terminal with Ctrl+Alt+T
  3. Extract the firmware tarball and cd to its directory.
  4. Run the following command to reboot into the bootloader
    1. adb reboot bootloader
  5. Once in the bootloader, run this command to reflash the boot partition:
    1. fastboot flash boot boot.img
  6. Without exiting the bootloader, run this command to reflash the recovery partition:
    1. fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
  7. After flashing, reboot and your phone should start into Android:
    1. fastboot reboot

Canonical says the dual boot solution should work with stock releases, AOSP, and even Cyanogenmod provided the device is running on Android 4.2 or a higher version.

This dual boot solution from Ubuntu is a good move by Canonical to penetrate the vast Android market.

With this Ubuntu and Android dual boot tool for developers out now, the holiday season is sure to keep the techies busy till they get back to work.

What are your views on the new tool? Have you downloaded the tool and are confident enough to use it? Do write to us with your comments in the section provided below.

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